CHAPTER X. THE MARRIAGE.
Even in such a calm as this, however, uncommon as it is, the atmosphere is not perfectly still. When the royal party were on board the vessels and the sails were set, the fleet did begin to glide, almost imperceptibly, it is true, away from the shore. In the course of the day they had receded several miles from the land, and when the dinner hour arrived they found that the lord admiral had provided a most sumptuous banquet on board. Just before the time, however, for setting down to the table, the duke found that it was a Catholic fast day, and that neither his mother nor any of her attendants, being, as they were, all Catholics, could eat any thing but fish; and, unfortunately, as all James's men were Protestants, they had not thought of the fast, and they had no fish on board. They, however, contrived to produce a sturgeon for the queen, and they sat down to the table, the queen to the dish provided for her, and the others to bread and vegetables, and such other food as the Catholic ritual allowed, while the duke himself and his brother officers disposed, as well as they could, of the more luxurious dainties which they had intended for their guests.
With a fair wind, three hours is sufficient for the run from Calais to Dover. It took the Duke of York two days to get his fleet across in this calm. At length, however, they arrived. The king was on the pier to receive his mother. Rejoiced as her majesty must have been to be welcomed by her son under such circumstances, she must have thought mournfully of her departed husband at the time of her landing, for it was here that he had taken leave of her some years before, when the troubles of her family were beginning. Charles conducted his mother to the castle. All the inhabitants of Dover, and of the country around, had assembled to witness the arrival, and they welcomed the mother back to the land of her husband and her sons with long and loud acclamations.
There was a great banquet at Dover Castle. Here all the members of the royal family were present, having been assembled for the occasion. Of course, it was an occasion of great family rejoicing, mingled undoubtedly, on the part of the queen, with many mournful thoughts and bitter recollections. The fast was past, and there was, consequently, no difficulty now about partaking of the food that had been provided; but another difficulty arose, having the same origin, viz., the question whether the divine blessing should be implored upon the food by a Catholic priest or an Episcopal chaplain. Neither party could conscientiously acquiesce in the performance of the service by the other. They settled the important question, or rather it settled itself at last, in the following manner: When the guests were ready to take their places at table, the king, instead of asking his mother's spiritual guide to officiate, as both Christian and filial courtesy required him to have done, called upon his own chaplain. The chaplain said grace. Immediately afterward, the Catholic priest, thinking that fidelity to his own religious faith required him to act decidedly, repeated the service in the Catholic form, ending with making the sign of the cross in a very conspicuous manner over the table. The gentry of Dover, who had been admitted as spectators of this banquet, were greatly scandalized at this deed. They regarded the gesture as an act of very wicked and vary dangerous idolatry.
From Dover the queen proceeded with her children to London. Her sons did every thing in their power to honor their mother's visit; they received her with great parade and pomp, assigned her a sumptuous residence, and studied every means of amusing her, and of making her visit a source of pleasure. But they did not succeed. The queen was very unhappy. Every place that she visited recalled to her mind the memory of her husband, and awakened afresh all her sorrows. She was distressed, too, by some domestic troubles, which we have not here time to describe. Then the religious differences between herself and her children, and the questions which were arising out of them continually, gave her a great deal of pain; she could not but perceive, moreover, that she was regarded with suspicion and dislike by the people of England on account of her Catholic faith. Then, besides, notwithstanding her English husband and her English children, she was herself a French woman still in character, thought, feeling, and language, and she could not feel really at home north of the Channel. After remaining, therefore, a few months in London, and arranging some family and business affairs which required her attention, she determined to return. The king accompanied her to Portsmouth, where she set sail, taking the little princess Henrietta with her, and went back to France. Among the family affairs, however, which she arranged, it is said that the marriage of her son, the king, was a special object of her attention, and that she secretly laid the train which resulted in his espousing Catharine of Braganza.